Muziris was an ancient seaport of renown, set beside the Periyar River, center of the spice trade to West Asia and Europe and believed to have existed from around the beginning of the Christian era. Muziris finds mention in classical Tamil Sangam literature and in numerous European historical sources. In a massive flood of the Periyar in 1341, the port was said to have been partially destroyed and the river silted. The centres of commerce, over a period of time, shifted to other ports on the Malabar Coast. Soon the exact location of Muziris was forgotten. Currently, it is believed to have been located close to present day Kodungallur town.
A fabled port once, now lost to the mists of time, Muziris was the centre of the spice trade to the markets of West Asia and Europe. Archaeological excavations in the area across the river from Cherai revealed the first site in the Indian Ocean to yield archaeological evidence of Mediterranean, North African, West Asian and Chinese maritime contacts. Radiocarbon dating of specimens revealed that the age of some of the objects go back to around 1300 BC to 100 BC.
Archaeological research in the area conducted by the Kerala Council for Historical Research at Pattanam, across the river from Cherai, has led to the hypothesis that the area could have once been be an integral part of Muziris. This was the first site in the Indian Ocean to yield archaeological evidence of Mediterranean, North African, West Asian and Chinese maritime contacts.
In 1983 a large hoard of Roman coins was found at a site about six miles from Kodungallur on the northern bank of the 'Paravur Thodu', a branch of the Periyar River. The most remarkable find at the Pattanam excavations is a wharf complex built of brick with nine bollards to harbour boats, and in the midst of this, a highly decayed canoe, perfectly fossilized in the mud. The boat, 6 meters long, was made of Artocarpus Hirsutus, a tree common along the Malabar Coast. Radiocarbon dating revealed that the age of the canoe to date from 1300 BC to 100 BC, making it the earliest watercraft excavated from an archeological context in India.
The Jews of Kerala believed that it was to Kodungallur that their ancestors sailed sometime in the 1st century CE. Christian belief in the St.Thomas tradition states that it was here that Saint Thomas, one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ, arrived in AD 52, bringing Christianity to the subcontinent. A church built by him and the earliest synagogue in India can be seen close to Pattanam and Kodungallur. It is also believed that a group of the early disciples of Prophet Muhammed, led by Malik Ibn Dinar arrived in Muziris to spread the faith and built the first mosque in India, the Cheraman Juma Masjid in Kodungallur.
A 2000 year old pillar, the dimensions and motiffs suggest that it was probably a decorative pillar of a residence. Found while exploring a marsh, close the estuary of the Periyar River, the area believed to be a part of the fabled port of Muziris.